The practice of gibbeting a criminal either used an iron cage or chains to hang the body for all to see. Sometimes, the body was still alive as part of their punishment, while others had already been killed using a different method , usually a hanging. In this article, you will learn about countries that used gibbeting, including places in the Middle East, Australia, and Bermuda.
In the Middle East
In the Middle East, gibbeting has taken place. In Iran, Babak Khorramdin was one of the main Persian revolutionary leaders of a local freedom movement. In 838, his hands and feet were cut off, and his body gibbeted while still alive. At the same time, he was sewn into a cow’s skin with the horns at ear level. As the skin dried out, the horn gradually crushed his head.
National Geographic Magazine published a photograph in their January 1921 issue that contained the image of a gibbet cage in use in Afghanistan. The photo indicated that the gibbet was a practice that was still in active use. Criminals were sentenced to death and placed alive in the cage. They stayed in the cage until after their death , sometimes for weeks or months. This was the last recorded gibbeting in the country.
Bermuda was heavily influenced by some of the same customs as England. The gibbet was one of the practices that they embraced, as it came in handy for deterring bad behavior during the 17th and 18th centuries. In Smith’s Parish at the entrance to Flatt’s Inlet, you will find Gibbet Island, which was used to hang the bodies of slaves that escaped. The practice was used as a deterrent to other slaves.
In 1837, the practice of gibbeting had already stopped in England five years previously, but in Australia, the body of John McKay was gibbeted on a tree close to the location where he had killed Joseph Wilson. This incident occurred near Perth, Tasmania. The sight of his body caused such a stir, but it was not removed until a friend of the murdered passed by and was horrified at the spectacle of a rotting corpse. He begged the authorities to remove it. A sign was placed on the site that named it ‘Gibbet Hill.’ The tree where McKay was hung is still standing , a symbol of the last case of gibbetting in a British colony.